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Spring 2009
On the Move

NSM Undergrad Studies Schizophrenia in Mice

Spending countless hours in a lab analyzing mouse brains and studying rodent behavior might not sound glamorous, but one University of Houston student’s award-winning research could help scientists better understand schizophrenia.

Mary Elhardt, a senior biology major, is one of many College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ undergraduates engaged in the sort of hands-on research typically associated with graduate students. Her research on schizophrenia-like symptoms in mice studies the effects of manipulating a particular cell receptor tied to learning and memory.

Elhardt’s project took one of the top prizes last fall at an annual research poster contest showcasing UH’s best undergraduate researchers. The contest featured nearly a dozen NSM student researchers.

Professor Devises Exercise Game For iPhone

A game designed by a University of Houston computer science professor allows iPhone users to have fun while burning calories.

Walk n’ Play debuted in March on Apple’s “App Store” and can be downloaded for free by iPhone users. The game was devised by researchers at UH’s Computational Physiology Lab, led by Ioannis Pavlidis, Eckhard Pfeiffer Professor of Computer Science.

The game lets users keep track of their physical activity through their iPhones. Just keep the iPhone in a pocket or carry it in a purse, and throughout the day the game’s cutting-edge calorie calculation technology records calories burned while walking.

Players can compete in real-time against another iPhone user or against a simulator and watch the calories burn off as they go about their everyday walking – like taking a brisk walk during lunch, climbing the stairs or walking the dog.

Within two weeks of its debut on the App Store more than 900 users from all over the world were playing Walk n’ Play, with about 60-70 new users joining each day, according to Pavlidis.

New Program Allows Regular Donors to Endow Scholarships

Leaving a permanent legacy and helping the next generation of Cougar scientists just got easier.

Endowing a scholarship once required a minimum of $25,000 paid within three years. Now, donors can start the process with just $1,000 and take as many years as they need to build up the fund to $25,000 – at which time it will officially become an endowed scholarship – providing annual assistance to a deserving NSM student.

While donors are building their endowments little by little, their gifts are added to the advisory board’s growth fund, and the interest earned will be allocated to the college’s most urgent priorities. The growth fund was established with $25,000 donated by advisory board members.

To learn more about this opportunity, contact NSM development officer Amber Winsor at (713) 743-7678 or

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